Abdominal Pain

Your abdomen extends from below your chest to your groin. Some people call it the stomach, but your abdomen contains many other important organs. Pain in the abdomen can come from any one of them. The pain may start somewhere else, such as your chest. Severe pain doesn’t always mean a serious problem. Nor does mild pain mean a problem is not serious.

Abdominal pain, or stomachache, affects many children. There are many possible causes of abdominal pain. It can be a sign of infection, constipation, or a serious medical condition. The pain may also be unrelated to a medical problem, and simply be your child’s way of expressing feelings of stress or anxiety (which does not mean that it doesn’t truly hurt!). Abdominal pain results in many doctor and ER visits, as well as many missed days of school.

Ankle Injuries and Disorders

Your ankle bone and the ends of your two lower leg bones make up the ankle joint. Your ligaments, which connect bones to one another, stabilize and support it. Your muscles and tendons move it.

The most common ankle problems are sprains and fractures. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments. It may take a few weeks to many months to heal completely. A fracture is a break in a bone. You can also injure other parts of the ankle such as tendons, which join muscles to bone, and cartilage, which cushions your joints. Ankle sprains and fractures are common sports injuries.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis of the spine. It causes inflammation between your vertebrae, which are the bones that make up your spine, and in the joints between your spine and pelvis. In some people, it can affect other joints.

AS is more common and more severe in men. It often runs in families. The cause is unknown, but it is likely that both genes and factors in the environment play a role.

Early symptoms of AS include back pain and stiffness. These problems often start in late adolescence or early adulthood. Over time, AS can fuse your vertebrae together, limiting movement. Some people have symptoms that come and go. Others have severe, ongoing pain.

A diagnosis of AS is based on your medical history and a physical examination. You may also have imaging or blood tests.

AS has no cure, but medicines can relieve symptoms and may keep the disease from getting worse. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and exercising can also help. In rare cases, you may need surgery to straighten the spine.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression. Your doctor can prescribe them for you. They work to balance some of the natural chemicals in our brains. It may take several weeks for them to help. There are several types of antidepressants. You and your doctor may have to try a few before finding what works best for you.

Antidepressants may cause mild side effects that usually do not last long. These may include headache, nausea, sleep problems, restlessness, and sexual problems. Tell your doctor if you have any side effects. You should also let your doctor know if you take any other medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.

It is important to keep taking your medicines, even if you feel better. Do not stop taking your medicines without talking to your doctor. You often need to stop antidepressants gradually.

Arm Injuries and Disorders

Of the 206 bones in your body, 3 of them are in your arm; the humerus, radius and ulna. Your arms are also made up of muscles, joints, tendons and other connective tissue. Injuries to any of these parts of the arm can occur during sports, a fall or an accident.

Types of arm injuries include

Tendinitis and bursitis
Sprains
Dislocations
Broken bones
Some nerve problems, arthritis, or cancers can affect the entire arm and cause pain, spasms, swelling and trouble moving. You may also have problems or injure specific parts of your arm, such as your hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder.

Arm pain

Arm pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems, ranging from joint injuries to compressed nerves. Depending on the cause, arm pain can start suddenly or develop over time. In many cases, arm pain actually originates from a problem in your neck or upper spine. Arm pain, particularly pain that radiates into your left arm, can even be a sign of a heart attack.

Self-care
Even serious arm injuries can be helped initially with home treatment. If you think that you have a broken arm or wrist, apply ice packs to the affected area and use a sling to help hold your arm still until you can get medical care.

If you have a compressed nerve or repetitive strain injury, be consistent about therapy; maintain good posture; and take frequent breaks at work and during repetitive activities, such as playing an instrument or practicing your golf swing.

Most other types of arm pain will get better on their own, especially if you start R.I.C.E. measures within 48 hours of your injury.

  • Rest. Take a break from your normal activities.
  • Ice. Place an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
  • Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation. If possible, elevate your arm to help reduce swelling.

Arthritis

If you feel pain and stiffness in your body or have trouble moving around, you might have arthritis. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Over time, a swollen joint can become severely damaged. Some kinds of arthritis can also cause problems in your organs, such as your eyes or skin.

Types of arthritis include

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It’s often related to aging or to an injury.
  • Autoimmune arthritis happens when your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of this kind of arthritis.
  • Juvenile arthritis is a type of arthritis that happens in children.
  • Infectious arthritis is an infection that has spread from another part of the body to the joint.
  • Psoriatic arthritis affects people with psoriasis.
  • Gout is a painful type of arthritis that happens when too much uric acid builds up in the body. It often starts in the big toe.

Back Injuries

Your back is made of bones, muscles, and other tissues extending from your neck to your pelvis. Back injuries can result from sports injuries, work around the house or in the garden, or a sudden jolt such as a car accident. The lower back is the most common site of back injuries and back pain. Common back injuries include

These injuries can cause pain and limit your movement. Treatments vary but might include medicines, icing, bed rest, physical therapy, or surgery. You might be able to prevent some back injuries by maintaining a healthy weight, lifting objects with your legs, and using lower-back support when you sit.

Back Pain

Also called: Backache, Lumbago 

If you’ve ever groaned, “Oh, my aching back!”, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is called chronic if it lasts for more than three months.

Most back pain goes away on its own, though it may take awhile. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and resting can help. However, staying in bed for more than 1 or 2 days can make it worse.

If your back pain is severe or doesn’t improve after three days, you should call your health care provider. You should also get medical attention if you have back pain following an injury.

Treatment for back pain depends on what kind of pain you have, and what is causing it. It may include hot or cold packs, exercise, medicines, injections, complementary treatments, and sometimes surgery.

Bone Density

Strong bones are important for your health. A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to measure your bone health. It can show

  • Whether you have osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones weak
  • Your risk for breaking bones
  • Your response to osteoporosis treatment

Low bone mass that is not low enough to be osteoporosis is sometimes called osteopenia. Causes of low bone mass include family history, not developing good bone mass when you are young, and certain conditions or medicines. Not everyone who has low bone mass gets osteoporosis. But everyone with low bone mass is at higher risk for getting it.

If you have low bone mass, there are things you can do to help slow down bone loss. These include eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D and doing weight-bearing exercise such as walking, bowling or dancing. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent osteoporosis.

Bone Diseases

Your bones help you move, give you shape and support your body. They are living tissues that rebuild constantly throughout your life. During childhood and your teens, your body adds new bone faster than it removes old bone. After about age 20, you can lose bone faster than you make bone. To have strong bones when you are young, and to prevent bone loss when you are older, you need to get enough calcium, vitamin D and exercise.

There are many kinds of bone problems:

  • Low bone density and osteoporosis, which make your bones weak and more likely to break
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta makes your bones brittle
  • Paget’s disease of bone makes them weak
  • Bone disease can make bones easy to break
  • Bones can also develop cancer and infections
  • Other bone diseases are caused by poor nutrition, genetic factors or problems with the rate of bone growth or rebuilding

Bruises

A bruise is a mark on your skin caused by blood trapped under the surface. It happens when an injury crushes small blood vessels but does not break the skin. Those vessels break open and leak blood under the skin.Photograph of an ice bag

Bruises are often painful and swollen. You can get skin, muscle and bone bruises. Bone bruises are the most serious.

It can take months for a bruise to fade, but most last about two weeks. They start off a reddish color, and then turn bluish-purple and greenish-yellow before returning to normal. To reduce bruising, ice the injured area and elevate it above your heart. See your healthcare provider if you seem to bruise for no reason, or if the bruise appears to be infected.

Burns

A burn is damage to your body’s tissues caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns. Another kind is an inhalation injury, caused by breathing smoke.Illustration of skin layers

There are three types of burns:

  • First-degree burns damage only the outer layer of skin
  • Second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the layer underneath
  • Third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath

Burns can cause swelling, blistering, scarring and, in serious cases, shock and even death. They also can lead to infections because they damage your skin’s protective barrier. Treatment for burns depends on the cause of the burn, how deep it is, and how much of the body it covers. Antibiotic creams can prevent or treat infections. For more serious burns, treatment may be needed to clean the wound, replace the skin, and make sure the patient has enough fluids and nutrition.

Bursitis

A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and other moving parts, such as muscles, tendons, or skin. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed. People get bursitis by overusing a joint. It can also be caused by an injury. It usually occurs at the knee or elbow. Kneeling or leaning your elbows on a hard surface for a long time can make bursitis start. Doing the same kinds of movements every day or putting stress on joints increases your risk.

Symptoms of bursitis include pain and swelling. Your doctor will diagnose bursitis with a physical exam and tests such as x-rays and MRIs. He or she may also take fluid from the swollen area to be sure the problem isn’t an infection.

Treatment of bursitis includes rest, pain medicines, or ice. If there is no improvement, your doctor may inject a drug into the area around the swollen bursa. If the joint still does not improve after 6 to 12 months, you may need surgery to repair damage and relieve pressure on the bursa.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

You’re working at your desk, trying to ignore the tingling or numbness you’ve had for some time in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through the wrist and up your arm. Just a passing cramp? It could be carpal tunnel syndrome.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of your hand. It contains nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the nerve to be compressed. Symptoms usually start gradually. As they worsen, grasping objects can become difficult.

Often, the cause is having a smaller carpal tunnel than other people do. Other causes include performing assembly line work, wrist injury, or swelling due to certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Women are three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent permanent nerve damage. Your doctor diagnoses carpal tunnel syndrome with a physical exam and special nerve tests. Treatment includes resting your hand, splints, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, and sometimes surgery.

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